Does a College Major REALLY Matter??

I’m really going to go out on a limb here and say . . . YES . . . and . . . NO.

It is true that a college education will lead to greater earnings over the lifetime of a career. It is particularly true if that education includes science and technology.

There is a short term – and a long term answer.

And there is an answer for the more technical professions such as engineering, medicine, accounting, etc.

In the short term, a college major DOES matter in helping you get that first job. You can read article after article about what majors are “hot” and what majors are “not” – all, it seems, tied to what sort of starting salary you might be able to command.

However, if you use only your “head” in thinking through what your major should be, you might find yourself quickly aimed for what is described as “Career Crisis #2 – First Job Disappointment.” You can check that out in my other blog – “The Doom Loop.”

The remedy for “First Job Disappointment” is generally “radical retooling” – heading off to get an MBA or law degree or whatever you can find in a suitable graduate school or technical college. Eventually (and hopefully) you will wind up finding that career in which you love what you do. And if you DO reach that goal and it fills you with the passion you deserve, then you will ultimately learn that what you are doing isn’t really work.

For the longer term view, USE YOUR HEART!

Try to discover early what it is that you really love – not necessarily what is “HOT.” If you major in what you really love – and supplement it with a technical course or two such as how to use a computer and gather information from the internet – you will achieve better grades.

Yes, it might NOT lead you to the highest starting salary compared to other more technical fields, but it will increase your chances of aiming your career goals toward something you will really enjoy doing over the course of your career.

Better academic performance will also amplify your chances toward going on to a graduate school in the field that you love – rather than having to radically retool after a first job disappointment.

There are two blogs that address this issue quite well, and I recommend that you check them out:

Mike Young is a financial coach who blogs generally about financial matters but occasionally dives into career issues – especially if they deal with compensation.

Allison Jones blogs mainly to Millennials who want careers that give back.

Finally, I am NOT saying that a college major represents a “college education.”

It definitely does NOT.

Personally, I believe that your major in college represents at most about 25% of your “college education.”

I’ll write about the other 75% in an upcoming post.

Cheers.

~ CCJ

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